FURNITURE MAKER, WOOD RECLAIMER, PROUD SON
The entire Headwaters Visitors’ Guide couldn’t cover everything that makes Hailey Livingstone so fascinating, including the story of his mother, human rights pioneer Kay Livingstone. We’re proud to have such a genuine character in our neck of the woods, the same woods that feed his soul and his art.
You’ve been making furniture 40 years, but it wasn’t your first career.
I was in the printing business, but I kept going into the garbage and pulling out antiques and restoring them, so I got into antiques. Then a client came to me, their barn was coming down to be turned into race courses and they asked if I could build some furniture from it. I built them marvellous tables and some cabinetry.
What’s so special about old barn wood?
Today, you go to buy wood that’s a foot wide, well it’s not. It’s pressed down to 11.5” and thickness-wise you’re not getting a full inch. The wood back then was a full inch and a quarter, because the big trees on the property or in the area got cut down and it was a nice thickness. You also get the worm-hole tracery, the old nail holes, and a lovely patina aged by Mother Nature.
You use fallen trees, too. What’s the difference?
The little knobs and stuff on the trees, they almost look like it’s talking to you. You can make out different animals, you start to see what we call Tree Spirits. But most people come in and they just see wood, so I point out the designs, the character, and as soon as I do that they’re interested.
I have a lot of people out there that know what wood I’m looking for. One fellow, he’s an arbourist from Hydro, anytime they have a nice tree that has to come down from disease or is by the roadside he gives me a call.
You say Halton Hills is where the good wood is…
If you go back to the 1800’s, that area was called Land of Trees and Land of the Pines.